March 9 marked 13 years since Robert Levinson went missing in Iran. Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared on March 9, 2007, during a visit to Kish Island. “For 13 years, the Iranian government has denied knowledge of his whereabouts or condition, a claim that defies credibility,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a statement marking the anniversary. “Iran must honor the commitment it has made to work with the United States for Mr. Levinson’s return.”
Initial reports indicated that Levinson was researching a cigarette smuggling case as a private investigator. In late 2013, his family acknowledged that his visit to Kish Island was partly related to his contract work for the CIA. He was not included in the prisoner swap on January 2016 that released four Americans held in Iran. His whereabouts remained unclear.
But in October 2019, the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances informed Levinson’s family that he had “on going case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran,” according to Iran’s judiciary. It was the first indication in more than a decade that Levinson could be in Iranian custody. In November 2019, the U.S. government announced a $20 million reward for information leading to the location, recovery and safe return of Levinson. An FBI award, upped to $5 million in 2015, was already in place. The following is Pompeo’s statement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Thirteen years ago today, on March 9, 2007, Robert A. “Bob” Levinson was abducted on Kish Island, Iran. For 13 years, the Iranian government has denied knowledge of his whereabouts or condition, a claim that defies credibility.
Mr. Levinson’s family, including grandchildren he has never met, has borne an unimaginable burden of uncertainty and hardship throughout this time. Iran must honor the commitment it has made to work with the United States for Mr. Levinson’s return. International norms, respect for human rights, and basic human decency demand no less.
Returning all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad is President Trump’s top priority. We will work until Bob Levinson and all U.S. hostages and wrongful detainees come home.